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Blancpain GT Series

SRO confirms 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series

© Planetlemans – Marcel ten Caat

After announcing the GT1 World and GT3 Europe calendars on Friday SRO today announced the calendar for the brand new GT Endurance Series, which will be known as the Blancpain Endurance Series. This stand-alone series will feature five races, with the Total 24 Hours of Spa being the highlight of the season.

As previously announced on Planetlemans the series will be reserved for GT3 and GT4 cars and each weekend, apart from the Spa 24 Hours, will have three-hour events rather than the one-hour sprint races that are now standard in the SRO series. All details on the Blancpain Endurance Series regulations can be found here.

The Blancpain Endurance Series will bring the GT3 and GT4 cars to famous tracks like Monza, Spa-Francorchamps, Silverstone but also to the brand new circuit of Navarra in Spain and the former French Grand Prix circuit at Magny Cours.

Stephane Ratel: “After just a year away from the long-distance format, we are returning to our roots. This three-hour format was the backbone of our racing for a decade, and has proved its popularity and worth. With some of the most beautiful, powerful and challenging circuits in Europe on the calendar, no clashes with national or European GT3 Championships, and categories to suit all drivers and teams, I am certain that this new series has a real chance of success. We are aiming at grids of thirty or so cars, and are certain that many teams competing with us in either the FIA GT3 European Championship or the GT4 European Cup will appreciate the opportunity to stretch their legs on longer races, amortising their costs and pleasing their drivers.”

Ratel also made it clear that the creation of the Blancpain Endurance Series should not be seen as a signal that one-hour sprint races for GT cars are not working. “Although we are convinced that the one-hour sprint format is ideal for the growing mediatisation of our professional series, we are aware that we have left some of our most staunch supporters behind,” Stephane Ratel commented. “Some of the gentlemen drivers, and a number of smaller teams, are looking for a new challenge. We believe that the Blancpain Endurance Series will provide them with exactly the right environment.”

SRO Motorsports Group will promote the new series, but the FIA sanctioned series will run under the auspices of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium (RACB).

The 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series calendar:

1. Monza (ITA) 17 April 2011
2. Navarra (ESP) 22 May 2011
3. Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) 30 July 2011
4. Magny Cours (FRA) 27 August 2011
5. Silverstone (GBR) 9 October 2011

Discussion

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  1. I can understand the need of GT1 “mediatisation”, because it is money, but under my point of view, endurance races should be deserved to GT1 and GT2, while sprint races can be filled with GT3 and GT4. Just on the other side of SRO decision.

    Posted by McLarenF1GTR | December 15, 2010, 14:42
  2. GT3 cars cost less at the moment in time that GT2 cars. As mentioned by people in the know, its at least 3 million to do a full season of ALMS with a year old but updated GT2 car. These numbers are likely lower than current numbers, but to be a top flight team you need at least a few full time employees.

    Having endurance races will allow more paid drivers to bring sponsorship dollars to offset the higher fuel, tire and possible damage cost by racing in the longer races with variable levels of talent out on course especially at night.

    Let ACO do the long distance endurance thing, I’m happy with the SRO to the with GT3 cars what it had planned for GT2 cars all along.

    Posted by Anthony | December 17, 2010, 0:18
  3. Anthony, i agree. Definit. GT3 is gonna be the benchmark for the future. Considering the fact that the GT1′s of the future will be upgraded GT3′s makes both categories a lot cheaper in comparison with “the factory financed” (LM)GT2 class. The launch of the Blancpain Endurance Series makes GT3 even stronger. I wonder how long GT2 still will stand…

    Posted by HD | December 17, 2010, 19:55
  4. I think SRO needs to rethink their naming scheme. They have GT1, GT3 and GT4, but no GT2. They should rename to fill this gap, but in a way that wont confuse with (LM) GT2

    Posted by SchellZ | December 17, 2010, 23:43
  5. It seems this championship is being run for wealthy amateur & pro am drivers rather than the fans – just like the existing FIA GT3/4 sprint championships. If money, driver interest and cars are available then best of luck to those who wish to enter – they provide an income for preparation experts in post recession Europe – but GT2 in ALMS and ILMC will surely provide the GT races of choice for the fans ?

    A mini GT3/4 enduro at Silverstone in October might provide we Brits with a last weekend away if a decent entry can be attracted, but running the Spa 24 Hours to pro am GT3/4 rules ? Come on SRO, you can’t expect people to travel and pay to watch that can you ? You revived a great event from the 60′s and 70′s during the ‘proper’ GT1 era from 2000 to 2007. Why relegate it again now ? Pleasing the drivers and amortising costs doesn’t always please the paying public.

    Posted by XJ8 | December 19, 2010, 8:53
  6. @XJ8, you’re completely wrong. Both the new series and the Spa 24 hours aren’t exclusive Pro/Am. There are different category’s and in the top category there are no Pro/Am rules.
    There is a second category, running the “new” GT3′s with Pro/Am rules, just as the third category with older GT3′s. Category 4 and 5 are GT4′s and Supersports.
    You can compare it with Le Mans : LMP1 and GT2 professional factory based teams and LMP2 and another GT2 category sort of Pro/Am formula. One big difference, GT2 is a lot more expensive in comparison with GT3.
    What you are telling about public. Most LMS-races attract lower crowds in comparison with SRO-races. The 1000 km of Spa attracts a big crowd, yes,…. a lot of FREE tickets is providing this !!!
    Another item, LMS is run by Patrick Peter, good friend of Stephane Ratel ( BPR you know ), but in fact SRO is running it.
    Finally, GT2 won’t survive. Make a comarison with F1, factory teams leaving… If this happens in GT2, it’s a disaster. Only Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette and BMW are making the series. Forget all the others, they’ll never compete on the highest level. According to FIA rules, both Corvette ( because of GT1-components of the past in the “GT2-car”) and BMW ( don’t know the reason ) AREN’T FIA GT2 cars. So, FIA has only Porsche and Ferrari as GT2-contenders. Make a comparison with GT3 and you know why GT3 is the future of GT racing. Why does ACO agrees Corvette and BMW to compete in their races? Otherwise, GT2 should already have been history. Even Mc Laren is going GT3 first….

    Posted by HD | December 20, 2010, 18:03
  7. @HD

    The factory teams are most likely going to stay. It’s good for selling road cars and they aren’t allowed to have factory teams in FIA GT1 or GT3. And anyway, sure Porsche, ferrari, bmw and vette are the only race winners now, Jaguar, Panoz and Spyker are still in the races, plus Aston is scaling up their GT2 effort, and Ford is fielding a full factory team either 2011 or 2012. That makes 8 factory teams at least. I bet you can’t think of a single championship/class that had that many factory teams at one time.

    Anyway, my point is, so what if a couple of manufacturers drop out. There are so many others and besides, a few more will probably take their place.

    Posted by SchellZ | December 20, 2010, 22:46

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